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VOL. 110 | NO. 210 | Tuesday, October 29, 1996

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Notes U.S. DOT computers Memphis elementary schools first to receive surplus computers By GABRIELLE C.L. SONGE The Daily News Surplus government computers 486s, not dinosaurs are on their way to three inner-city elementary schools. Memphis is the first American city to benefit from President Clintons promise to put a computer in every classroom and to help all Americans become computer literate, according to Mortimer Downey, deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Transportation. In presenting 52 computers to Douglass, Hanley and Cummings elementary schools, he told assembled dignitaries and school children this is an era that places far greater emphasis on science and technology. The Internet connects people all across the world, and the president wants to provide all schools with their "own on-ramp to the information highway," Downey said. As his department upgrades its computer system, he said, the older systems are being donated to communities across the country. "Rather than giving one here and one there, we decided to go some place and see if we cant give a complete set of computers to several schools which is what we did today," he said. The donated computers consist of hard drives, keyboards, modems and color monitors. All three schools are located within the Memphis Enterprise Community: Douglass (North Memphis), Hanley (Orange Mound) and Cummings (South Memphis). Covering 17 census tracts, the Memphis Enterprise Community focuses on three development areas: affordable housing, youth activities and work force training and placement. "Were going to place computers in every classroom, and in our upper grades, well be able to place two computers," said Myra Whitney, Douglass Elementary School principal. "Its a tremendous gift because our children will now be able to access the Internet from their classrooms, and they will be able to communicate from classroom to classroom throughout the building," she said. "Its a wonderful way to prepare them for 21st century." In October, Douglass participated in Gov. Don Sundquists ConnecTEN, which connected all Tennessee public schools to the Internet. As a result of that process, Whitney said, "Were already cabled, and the Department of Transportation will do all of the installation and wiring for all of the new computers. So all will be channeled into the Internet." Downey was presented with a key to the city for giving the school children the "present" of the computers. Downey said he hopes the computers will be used "to learn, to explore and to have fun." The computers usher in a renaissance of new opportunities that will help students fulfill their dreams, Whitney said. The computers are being donated to the schools through the Memphis Enterprise Community and the citys division of housing and community development. The divisions interim director Debra Brown said, "The donation of the computer equipment from the U.S. Department of Transportation is a very gracious gift. It will provide children in the Memphis Enterprise Community (with) the ability and opportunity to learn computer skills which will create a bridge to the 21st century."

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